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The Masters 2023 — Defending champ Scottie Scheffler’s blandness is by design

The Masters 2023 -- Defending champ Scottie Scheffler's blandness is by design

AUGUSTA, Ga. — SCOTT SCHEFFLERDr. Troy Van Biezen’s Dallas office one day in fall 2014. He was panicked.

Scheffler’s son, ScottieAlthough he was one of the top junior golfers in the country, he struggled to hit a ball straight when he was a freshman at The University of Texas. The player who, just months earlier, had tied for 22nd (and made a shot-in-one in the 2014 Byron Nelson Championship), a PGA Tour event, couldn’t break par. In his first collegiate start, he recorded an 18-over total of 54 holes. In his second start, he posted a score of 15 over.

Scottie’s back injury had made it even more difficult for him to withdraw from a tournament. Scottie grew 13 inches in 14 months during high school. His 6-foot-2 frame was no longer supported by his muscles and joints.

“We just sat there on Saturday and said enough. Let’s get this figured out. How can we make him better? How can we get him back playing at a high standard on the golf course, just like he did before? Van Biezen, a coach and chiropractor who has worked closely with many athletes, said, “How do we get him back on the golf course competing at a high level, like he used to?” Tiger Woods. “You cannot compete at a high level with pain or an injury. It’s impossible to do that anymore.

There were always signs that Scheffler might oneday become a Masters champion and one of the greatest players in the world. He shot 37 over nine greens as a 5-year old. The next year, he scored a 33. From 2004 to 2010, he won close to 60% of his junior tournament starts, winning a staggering 74 victories. He was a three-time individual champion in high school.

Scheffler’s dream was now at risk of being scuppered by an ailing back or rapidly fading confidence.

Van Biezen said, “The hardest thing to any athlete is when your brain wants you to compete but the body doesn’t allow it.” Scottie was there. He knew he was capable of playing good golf, and he knew that he could compete at a high standard, but his body was not allowing it. Mother Nature can’t be stopped.”

SINCE THE TIMESScheffler first showed signs of potential talent as a golfer at the age of 5. His family, coaches and friends, many of whom still surround him today, had worked tirelessly for Scheffler’s stability through modesty, values and faith. They worked tirelessly to put Scheffler back together and rebuild his confidence at a time when he needed them most.

John Fields, a Texas coach, said that Scottie Scheffler’s best attribute is his unique surround by angels. “They were a step-by, step process to help Scottie grow into a God-fearing individual that was not identifiable by his golf game.”

Scheffler’s success is due to the stability of his team. For nearly two decades, he has been working alongside Randy Smith, his coach. His manager is Blake Smith, Smith’s longtime friend and son. Scheffler was in high school with Meredith and was their boyfriend for four years. They were married in 2020. Van Biezen has been working with Scheffler ever since he was 14. Ted Scott was his caddie. Bubba WatsonTwo Masters titles won, has been a calming influence for the course in the past two years.

Randy Smith stated that he has many people back home who hold him in their arms. They really do. That’s probably the most important part of him being grounded. That’s just the way he is. There are many people, including his family back home, who will hold him to account. If he does something wrong, it will be punished.

Scott and Diane Scheffler moved their family to Dallas from Montvale in New Jersey when Scottie was 6. Shortly after the move, Scottie and Diane Scheffler borrowed money to join Royal Oaks Country Club. Smith worked alongside Justin Leonard, Anthony Kim, as well as other pros on PGA Tour.

Diane, who was the chief operating officers of a law company, was the family’s sole breadwinner. Scott was a stay at home dad who drove Scottie and his sisters Callie, Molly, and Cara to school, practices, and other places. Scottie attended Highland Park school with his sisters, which is an area north of Dallas.

Fields first came across Scheffler in 2007 while he was asking his team to name the next great player for the state’s talent-rich. Charlie Holland, then an All-American, mentioned Smith’s seventh-grader.

Holland said to Fields, “Coach there’s no doubt about it.” “There’s a little guy, I think that he is 12 or 13 years of age, he was like seventh grade. This guy is going to be amazing, I think. He is just amazing.”

NOT LONGER AFTERFields was able to see Scheffler play at a junior tournament at Barton Creek Country Club, Austin. Scheffler, who was just 5’1″ and 100 lbs, surprised Fields. Fields saw the same short game in Scheffler, even though he was only 5 feet, 1 inch tall. Jordan SpiethBefore becoming a PGA Tour superstar, he would spend two years in Texas.

Fields stated, “They can get up and down from any place and hit remarkable shots at that ages with spin and distance control.” “That’s unbeatable. People ask me every day, “What’s different between Scottie & Jordan and everyone else?” They’re tops in tour players around the greens. How many times have you seen these guys hit shots from off the green, in a bunker, or at other spectacular moments? I have always believed that great players make great shots at the right moment. Those guys do.”

Scheffler may have been small for his age but he was not intimidated. Smith stated that Scheffler had to be helped by Smith to reduce his energy levels on the course.

Smith stated that Smith was a little hotter when he was a child. “And you’d say, “You better quit it now because you’re going to get some people who really give your crap the older you become.”

Jeff Loyd, the Highland Park boys’ golf coach, had seen Scheffler’s competitiveness while playing in kickball and other sports in elementary.

Loyd stated that there were times when he would get mad at us for playing certain games in the gym. “So, nothing extraordinary, but he is a fierce competitor.”

Scheffler grew up fast, at least in terms of physical growth, when he experienced the sudden growth spurt in his sophomore and junior years in highschool. He began hitting the ball further and won three straight Class 4A individual state championships. Scheffler broke or tied two course records in Dallas in 2012, setting a 10-under 61 at Northwood Club and a 9 under 61 at Dallas Country Club.

Loyd and Smith were unable to alter Scheffler’s unconventional golf swing. Scheffler’s feet jump on the downswing and his right foot slides towards his left, which helps him transfer weight. It’s not pretty, but it works. When Spain’s Jon RahmWhen Scheffler was asked about Scheffler’s swing at the Masters last season, he replied, “You cannot teach that.” It’s unteachable. It’s impossible to teach.

Scheffler’s unusual swing was tested just before his junior year in 2013. Loyd warned his players about playing pickup basketball and horsing about for the next two weeks. Scheffler texted Loyd a few days before the tournament: “Hey coach, just wanted you to know that I twisted mine ankle but I’m fine.”

Loyd immediately called Scheffler.

“What does it mean that you have sprained your ankle?” Loyd asked.

“Coach, I’m fine,” Scheffler said. “It’s nothing major.”

Loyd stated, “Well, it being this close I’m going do my due diligence to have a backup plan prepared if this turns out not to be what you’re telling us.”

Loyd arrived at Onion Creek Club’s driving range outside Austin, the day before the state finals. He learned that Scheffler had broken his left ankle after stepping on an acorn.

“How is it affecting your swing?” Loyd asked.

Scheffler explained that Scheffler had to point his left foot towards the target. “Yeah, it’s not that big of a deal. It’s fine with me.

Loyd said to him, “I’ll be that one who decides that.” “All right, let’s see what you have.”

Scheffler hit a 5-iron and landed a ball within a few feet.

Loyd replied, “Well I’ve seen all that I need to,” “We’re good for going, boys.”

Scheffler won the individual title by 3 strokes, despite playing on a bum leg. Highland Park won by 25 strokes the team championship. Scheffler even managed a hole in one on the 17th hole at 144 yards.

Loyd stated that Loyd played the entire stinking tournament with one foot pointed towards the target. “He did occasionally get a little off balance with Scottie’s famous footwork but he adjusted and made the situation work.”

Loyd also recalls a close encounter with Scheffler. The same car, a red Volvo stationwagon they affectionately called the “Red Rocket”, was used by all four Scheffler children. It was passed from one sibling, to the next. Scottie drove a few of his teammates to a course for a match. He took Interstate 635, one loop in Dallas, as his choice. The Volvo’s hood came up as they were driving at 65 mph. To finish the drive, he needed to navigate to his shoulder and tie down the hood with rope.

Loyd said, “I would not be surprised if Scott still owns that stinking vehicle.” “Wouldn’t shock us at all. Who knows, he might be holding it for his grandkids when they get there?

Scheffler was able to inherit a 2012 GMC Yukon from the father when he went off to college. Scheffler stated that the SUV had travelled 178,000 miles during the FedEx Cup playoffs. Scheffler is still driving it.

SCHEFFLER WAS 6 Fields reports that he was approximately 200 pounds and feet tall when he arrived in Texas. He went from wearing the small women’s cadet gloves to the extra-large men’s gloves. Scheffler was part of a Longhorns team that included future PGA Tour players Beau Hossler, Kramer Hickok and Doug Ghim.

Fields claims Scheffler’s sudden growth spurt was causing havoc on his body. Fields stated that Scheffler’s sudden growth spurt was causing problems in his muscles and joints, which resulted in a back injury. Scheffler was also adjusting to college without Meredith, who attended Texas A&M, and was taking difficult classes as a finance major. It all seemed overwhelming at first.

Fields stated that Fields was unable to believe that he could be great because of the combination of his growth spurt and the pressure on his joints. He did not see exceptionalism as we all saw it. He was a U.S. junior national champion and he comes in right behind Spieth. Everyone asks Scottie, “What’s wrong?” What’s the problem with Scottie? Why is he not doing better? This was his first semester.”

Van Biesen said Scheffler was suffering from many of the same problems junior golfers experience as they grow up, such as loss of mobility and flexibility in the hips which can put stress on the lower back. Van Biesen met with Smith to discuss what could be done to heal Scheffler’s back and to adjust his swing to make it more efficient and repeatable. Fields gave them permission to do what was necessary. Van Biesen found Scheffler, a Austin chiropractor, and soft-tissue masseuse. Scheffler was given a pre-round stretching program and a post-round recovery program.

Van Biesen explained that once the body started moving better and he wasn’t in pain, then the next phase was performance-based to make the kid stronger and faster. He started to see some of these results after Scottie. He said, “Wow, I don’t feel any pain anymore.” “I’m playing quite good golf,” and we’ve just kept it that way and he’s taken to it.”

Scheffler had won the Western Intercollegiate and Big 12 individual titles by the end of his freshman season at Texas. He was named the Phil MickelsonFreshman of Year in college golf

Fields said that people panic because they see things like Scottie’s. “So you need to change teachers, because something’s wrong in my back, and maybe the trainer is telling you that you’re wrong or doing something wrong. Everyone understood, thank God!, that he was only growing. He was still learning when he was in college. It wasn’t as if he had arrived and was the final product. He wasn’t.”

Fields set out to finish Smith and Loyd’s work, keeping his emotions in check. Fields spent two decades walking with Scheffler. He stated that it wasn’t to improve Scheffler’s game, or teach Scheffler course management. It was more to keep Fields in the moment.

Ghim, a PGA Tour player, recalls Scheffler breaking a few ping pong paddles in college.

Ghim stated that he has had great success as a tour player due to the fact that he has done a better job managing his emotions than he did in college. “He was vocal about his feelings when he played in amateur golf. It’s quite interesting to see him now so calm and collected. He’s calm, collected, and reserved when you see him on TV. But, when you meet him in person, and spend time with them over ping pong matches, or whatever, he’s the class clown. He’s the loudest in the room.

Fields said that he would get mad. Let’s suppose he missed a four-foot putt. You would think that the world was ending. It took him time before he could put the same amount of competitiveness, maybe even that energy, into every shot and then be able t leave it behind after the shots.

Fields recalled walking with Scheffler in his sophomore season. Scheffler was ecstatic after missing a 4 footer on the 16th hole. Fields told Scheffler as he walked to the 17th green, “Scottie,” that if you were going to get mad for a missed shot like that, then you have to be equally happy about making that next 10-footer. There has to be balance.

A year later, the wind was blowing at the 2017 Big 12 championship at Prairie Dunes Country Club, Hutchinson, Kansas. The league officials had been urged by coaches to stop placing pins in such a way. Scheffler made a 20-foot putt on the seventh hole. Scheffler putted a good putt, leaving his golf ball about a foot and a quarter from the hole. He walked over to mark the ball but a gust of wind blew it 4 feet past his hole. It rolled another 20 yards, then crept over the false edge. Scheffler looked at the rules and asked, “What should I do?”

“Did your mark get down?” The official was curious.

Scheffler said, “No.”

“Well, then the ball is in play.”

Fields claims Scheffler made a double-bogey seven on the hole.

Fields stated that although he was angry at first, he soon let it go when he reached the eighth tee. He hit a remarkable 9 iron shot to just over a foot and it was over. I was stunned. He actually shifted gears. He left all that behind. I knew he was on the right track.”

THOSE TEACHING MOMENTSScheffler will always be your friend.

Scheffler stated, “I always try very calmly and patient on the course.” Scheffler said, “That’s why I don’t celebrate a lot or do anything crazy or get really mad. People have noticed that my efforts to be calm and collected are something that I do. That’s what I want, and I think that’s a positive thing. I don’t want my life to be chaotic in any way. I just want my business to be successful and to be done. That’s it. I think I’ve been successful on that front.

His style of play is often described as bland and boring, but he has been the best player on the PGA Tour for the past 14 months. Scheffler is still true to himself in a sport that can be volatile and where success and confidence are fleeting.

Scheffler may not have the same flair as Woods on the course, Rory McIlroyHe is transparent about it, but he is not an introvert trying keep his private life secret from the rest of world. He just chooses to not share them on social media. According to his close circle, Scheffler is more like a Texas-based live oak with deeply embedded roots that can withstand wind and storms. Scheffler, like the live oak, will not allow himself to drift too far from his center, no matter how famous or chaotic the world is around him.

Scheffler stated, “I haven’t changed just because my friend won a tournament.” Does my buddy get promoted at work and become a completely new person? I think people sometimes see things on TV and expect someone to be different at home. But it’s something I have repeated many times: Nothing has changed because, as I stated, I’m still the exact same person, I’m still married and I’m still my father’s son. [and]I still have the exact same parents. Nothing’s different.”

SCHEFFLER SLIPEDHis victory at Augusta National Golf Club, nearly a year after he was the Masters champion, was his culmination of a meteoric rise on PGA Tour. He wore a 44-long green jacket. It was his fourth win in six starts. Arnold Palmer was also the only player to win four Masters tournaments, including one victory in the Masters.

Scheffler doesn’t seem like he is going to slow down anytime soon. Scheffler won two of the nine stroke-play events this season and was in the top 10 in six. He is one of the favourites to win the Masters. He is aiming to be the fourth back-toback Augusta National winner; Nick Faldo (1989-1990), Jack Nicklaus (1965–66) and Woods (2000–022) were the others.

“Obviously, he is a great player, but sometimes the play comes in waves, and you have to ride that wave,” Rickie Fowler said. His wave was a little longer than others, but nothing less than impressive. It’s difficult to find a weakness in his game. [from]You need to have confidence and momentum. All these guys can play but it’s easier to win if you have momentum and confidence.

Scheffler’s life seems so simple right now. But his past reminds Scheffler it won’t be that easy forever. Meredith was there with Scheffler on Sunday last year when the weight of a 3-stroke leader took its toll. Scheffler said he cried like a baby and didn’t believe he was ready for it. His wife confirmed that he was.

Scheffler stated, “I hope it resonated people.” “I like honesty in these settings and that was definitely something I wanted. It was very helpful. It’s always a great thing to be able to share your real life with your spouse. I think that’s one great thing about marriage. You are loved for who you are and not a fake version of yourself. So whenever I can talk truth to her, it’s very special. It has helped me tremendously in that day and in life.

Scheffler knows that no matter what happens at Augusta National Golf Club, Scheffler won’t be the only one there. Smith will be at his side on the range. Scott will be with him on the range to help him analyze every shot. Van Biezen will be there to stretch him and get him ready for next round. Meredith and his sisters, as well as his parents, will be cheering him on.